Monday, November 21, 2011

Wheeling, WV: Eminent Domain and Historic Building Demolition Craze

"City leaders are wrong to lead with an erasure, trying to rub out former greatness and pawn it off as a victory for today." - Jerome Poynton, resident of East Wheeling.

City leaders in Wheeling are making efforts to demolish a significant number of historic buildings in the East Wheeling Historic District.  Earlier this year, I documented the large section of the East Wheeling neighborhood that city leaders seek to acquire by eminent domain. The intention is to bulldoze and replace the once elegant Civil War-era Victorian architecture with a ball park. There is currently a lawsuit filed by home owners in the neighborhood who wish to keep their homes, but the city still intends to raze these and the other homes in the area.  You can see the pictures I took of the area the mayor wants to completely tear down here: Large Section of East Wheeling Historic District to be Demolished.

A large block of Civil War-era Victorian housing to be demolished in the East Wheeling Historic District.

Read more about the eminent domain case in East Wheeling here:
 In addition to the neighborhood clearance in East Wheeling, a large section of the 1100 block of Main and Market in Center Wheeling will also be demolished.  Read more here:

The former Fort Henry Club, a 19th century landmark in downtown Wheeling, is also endangered. The club recently closed and the building is in the hands of the Episcopal Church next door, who seek to demolish the building if not sold within six months. Read more here:

See the real estate listing for the Fort Henry Club here.

Demolition has also started at a Wheeling landmark, the Mount de Chantal, built in 1865:

Historic Mount de Chantal, Wheeling, WV (now being demolished)


  1. It is a shame that the Mount de Chantal property could undergo adaptive re-use especially when it brought priceless history to Wheeling since ca 1865. The Wheeling Jesuit University could have been given the opportunity to expand on-site since the building is next door. Also, so many historical (ceramic) tiles, cornices, and hand-carved wood trim is negligently tossed in the landfills. The area preservation groups were deliberately kept out of the discussions to save the building - so the chairman of the board of the Wheeling Hospital could "buy" the property from the same Catholic Diocese that he represents. Hardly an "arm's length" transaction. Perhaps there is an ethical problem too.

  2. The statement above indicates that whoever wrote it does not know about the company involved in this situation: GreenTrac. Please find them and their philosophy on the web and know that many, many parts of this wonderful old set of buildings are now available for reuse. One example of an entity offering some items for sale is doc'sarchitecturalsalvage in Indianapolis. Also, some items are available from a dealer in Charleston, South Carolina.
    Can the writer confirm his statement about items being "negligently tossed in(to)..landfills".

    This statement is by someone who is following the case carefully.


    Here is another beautiful Wheeling, WV 6-story commercial building (ca 1890) that is at risk for being bulldozed - unless a benevolent buyer can buy it - and renovate it into residences and businesses.

    Contact Information
    The Professional Building is located at 1300 Market Street, Wheeling, WV 26003. If you would like to make an appointment to view the building or want more information, contact the owner:
    Cheryl Joseph, Owner and Realtor
    1300 Market Street
    Wheeling, WV 26003
    Phone: 304.242.2158
    Cell: 304.281.2358

    The Property
    Built originally as a bank, the grand Professional Building stands an astounding 125 feet tall. The building’s polished granite facade reflects an affluent 1891 Wheeling, West Virginia. The interior spaces are disguised by dropped ceilings. Solid wood accoutrements and spectacular original details are now camouflaged by outdated remodeling, done to reduce the heating and cooling costs for a history of individual tenants.

    In order to save valuable time for potential buyers and myself, I have been as thorough, honest and upfront as possible concerning necessary repair items for this building. I have worked with Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation, Schamu Machowski and Greco Architects, and the city of Wheeling to substantiate repairs necessary to bring this structure up to code. All of the pertinent information can be found in the report submitted by SMG architects.
    Shell Case Study.pdf
    A sample estimted budget has been prepared by SMG Architects to help put bulding repairs in prospective.
    Sample Estimated Budget.pdf
    The building is located in Wheeling West Virginia and in the heart of Marcellus gas drilling territory. This location would be perfect for owner residence on the top two floors and owned occupied business on the first four floors. A prime opportunity to combine a little history with todays modern business.

    Factual Information
    Currently owned by local couple. The six story building has 5 full floors and a partial 6th floor. Approximate size of the full floors is 2900 sq. ft. and the 6th floor approximately 1000 sq. ft.
    The building is used for the couple's own businesses. The first and third floors are totally occupied. Part of the second floor and about half of the fourth floor are also occupied by the couple. The fifth and sixth floor are vacant.